Breath & Shadow
A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature
Love Poem To Autism, Love Poem To Words
By Aleph Altman-Mills
They say I fixate,
the way I line up
My fingers swoop down the bindings,
Beecher's is so soft it tickles,
and I crumble
I'm rolling up words in my mouth,
pulling in spaghetti strand spirals.
It's called echolalia,
the way Emily Dickinson
snaps from my teeth
duh DUH duh DUH words bobbing up and down and I'm flapping Emily Dickinson!
and I'm tapping Emily Dickinson!
and I'm spinning Emily Dickinson!
"Stop staring at the ceiling fan."
I can't look you in the eye right now.
Your face is burbling over.
The trees are greasing the world with light.
Your words are thumping like a carousel.
(Sometimes I can
tack my eyes to theirs,
but I don't know the eye color
of those I've loved for years.)
They always miss nonverbal cues.
"My lungs are filled with hand buzzers! I like you! I like you!
I like you! I like you
so much I can't breathe!"
But I'm learning fragments of their rules, learning their ways, learning to freeze.
Aleph Altman-Mills is an autistic writer who loves skirts and swinging. She has been published in Words Dance, Mobius, and The Legendary, among others. She blogs at really-fucking-confused.tumblr.com.